Stobbs dismisses Maag's proposed class action; Suit sought damages from local tow company

By Christina Stueve Hodges | Nov 29, 2012

Thomas Frenkel

Madison County Associate Judge Stephen Stobbs ruled against an East Walton woman in her proposed class action lawsuit against a Caseyville towing company.

Stobbs dismissed with prejudice both individually and as representative of a purported class the claims of Tiffany Craycraft who alleged that Black Lane Auto Parts towed her 2000 Ford Taurus from Highway 157 in Caseyville without her consent.

Craycraft had been arrested by Caseyville Police at 2:30 a.m. on April 11, after she was observed disobeying a traffic light. She was taken into custody by police on an outstanding warrant, and as a result her vehicle was left on the roadway. Subsequently, Black Lane towed the vehicle from a turning lane on Highway 157 on police orders.

Craycraft, represented by Wood River attorney Thomas Maag, in a two count complaint sought damages for alleged violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code under its Anti-Theft Law and Abandoned Vehicles chapter and under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, because when she retrieved her vehicle, she claims she did not receive a detailed, signed receipt, showing the legal name of the towing service.

Stobbs wrote in a Nov. 19 order that the issue before the court regarding alleged violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code, was one of duty under the Act.

"The Act does not impose a duty on a towing service, conducting a tow at the direction of law enforcement, to second guess the police agency’s assessment of the traffic hazard created by the position or location of the unattended vehicle upon the roadway," Stobbs wrote.

"The scope of the duties owed by a towing service to render an individual assessment of the safety of the position of the vehicle before consenting to a police directed tow, it would have done so. That it did not is evidence of intent no such duty exists under the Act. Given that plaintiff does not contest that the Defendant acted pursuant to the direction of the law enforcement agency and that the Court finds that there is no duty to second guess the agency’s assessment of the hazard created by the position or location of the unattended vehicle, the Plaintiff’s cause of action based on breach of a duty owed, by the towing service, under section 5/4-203 of the Act cannot stand."

Stobbs also dismissed the second count of Craycraft's complaint in which she alleged violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act because she did not receive a detailed receipt.

"The section of the Act relied upon by the Plaintiff only creates a private cause of action for an alleged breach of the section, in cases of an unauthorized tow," he wrote. "As it is uncontroverted that the tow was authorized by law enforcement, the complaint must fail."

Attorney Peter Maag, brother of Thomas Maag, said over the telephone there would be no comment regarding Stobbs' ruling.

Black Lane Auto Parts attorney Thomas Frenkel said over the telephone he had no comment.

Madison County case number 12-L-641.

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